European health insurance card

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Once you have health insurance in the Netherlands, you qualify for a European health insurance card, also known as EHIC. This card entitles you to receive medical care in other EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It also serves as proof of insurance to healthcare providers in the EU.

Important exceptions to European health insurance cover

While the EHIC allows you to receive healthcare if you unexpectedly need it while abroad, there are some important things to note:

  • The European insurance card does not cover planned care. This means that if you travel to another country with the goal of receiving health care there, your expenses are not paid for.
  • The European health insurance card does not entitle you to free healthcare in other countries. Care must still be paid for according to the rules of the country’s healthcare system. Treatments that are free at home may cost money abroad, and vice versa. If you need medical care while abroad, you should always let your insurance company in the Netherlands know. They will be able to tell you how it works and which treatments will be paid for or reimbursed after you return.
  • Healthcare costs abroad will be reimbursed up to the same level as the equivalent Dutch treatment. This means that you may have to pay the difference.
  • The EHIC is not a free EU travel insurance card. It only covers non-planned medical care, so you will not be covered for things like medical repatriation, lost or stolen property, or private health care.

How do I apply for a European health insurance card?

Your EHIC is on the back of the insurance card you have received from your insurance provider in the Netherlands. You will receive this card in the post, so you do not need to apply for your European health insurance card separately. If you have not received your EHIC or the details printed on your EHIC are not correct, you should contact your health insurance provider. They will send you a new card with the correct information.

How to renew a European health insurance card?

Your European health insurance card expires on the date that is listed on the card or as soon as you are no longer covered by health insurance in the Netherlands. Your health insurance provider will usually automatically issue a new card before the expiry date of your old card. If the old one has expired and you have not yet received your new EHIC, please contact your insurance company.

Health insurance versus self pay

As an expat living in the Netherlands, you are required by law to take out basic health insurance. Once you have done so, you are automatically eligible for a European health insurance card. However, EHIC is not recognised by private hospitals abroad. If you prefer private healthcare while abroad, you can opt for ‘self pay’ and pay for your medical care out of your own pocket. You may be able to reclaim some of the cost from your insurance provider in the Netherlands if your health insurance policy allows. If in doubt, please contact your health insurance provider to find out exactly which expenses for private medical care they will reimburse.

Mandatory health insurance explained

Almost all residents of the Netherlands are required by law to have basic health insurance. (☎ call at local rate)